No council tax levy on second homes in Castle Point despite soaring numbers

Castle Point Council says it “must balance income from council tax against the need to protect and improve the local economy” as the number of second homes not subject to an extra premium has more than doubled.

Castle Point so far has not chosen to impose a second home premium powers available to it – even though the borough has seen the second highest increase in number of second homes over the past two years.

Figures from the Government have Castle Point seeing the number of second homes increase from 99 to 211 between 2022 and 2023- a 113 per cent increase.

The council says this is mainly due to the ongoing development at the Thorney Bay park home site where many static caravans have been vacated – thereby falling into the category of a second home before they are replaced by new brick-built properties

Just Vale of White Horse which has seen an increase from 185 to 428 has seen a higher increase.

The introduction of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 allows to increase by up to double the council tax charge on second homes, with effect from 1 April 2025.

However, the council says it must balance any income benefit from a second home premium against the harm that may cause the local economy.

Councillor Stephen Mountford, Castle Point cabinet portfolio holder for resources, said: “In the past year the borough has gone from 99 properties which class as second homes to 211.  The significant majority of the increase is due to the ongoing development at the Thorney Bay Park home site where a number of static caravans have been vacated and are being replaced by new brick-built properties.

“Once vacated, the static caravans become classed as second homes rather than a primary residence. We regularly review our policies in relation to council tax as part of our commitment to ensuring a stable and sustainable financial position for the council. In doing this we must balance income from council tax against the need to protect and improve the local economy, in which tourism plays a vital part.”

Other councils across Essex are imposing a second home premium. Second-home owners in the seaside hotspot of Frinton face a doubling of their council tax bill – in a bid to help more young people from the area onto the property ladder. The rise, which will come into force in 2025, means someone owning a band D second property in Frinton will have to pay £4070.90 a year if charges stay at 2023 levels.

Brentwood Council is set to introduce a council cax premium of 100 per cent – making a total council tax charge of 200 per cent  – for second homes, with effect from  April 1 2025. There the number of second homes has gone from 212 to 195 between 2022 and 2023.

The number of empty homes has gone from 115 in 2015 to 483 in 2022 to 610 in 2023.

Councillor David Kendall, chair of the Finance, Assets, Investment & Recovery Committee said: “At this time we are reviewing it but we are not making a move on it at this moment in time.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter